From Children of Air India by Renée Sarojini Saklikar, published by Nightwood Editions in 2013. Her work has appeared in the Georgia Straight, Vancouver Review, SubTerrain and other periodicals, and in several anthologies. She lives in Vancouver. For more on Saklikar and her work, visit thecanadaproject.wordpress.com.
ELEGY FOR COURTROOM 20, VANCOUVER LAW COURTS
Search gate outside the courtroom.
Lexan glass to separate
the body of the court—
149 seats and video monitors
three locations, allowing for unobstructed views.
Everyone watches the proceedings.
A judges’ bench accommodates hearings.
23 seats for prosecution and defence counsel,
in the body of the court.
Space for 15 lawyers if required.
A witness box, a jury box, both wheelchair accessible.
State-of-the-art technology for use by all courtroom participants.
28 microphones for all participants:
lawyers, judges, witnesses, translators.
384 service outlets—voice, data, audio, video.
3 forty-inch Plasma Display Monitors.
2 thirty-six-inch TV monitors.
4 voice-activated video cameras transmit proceedings:
viewing locations outside the courtroom.
— Government of British Columbia, Court Services, 2003
The room underground: wood panel, red carpet, benches and glass.
The judge a pinprick head,
far away, behind layers of Lexan
right-angled to the players in the main action—
a drama that was about [redacted] and not about
reflected, refracted, our airplane saga.
—N, eyewitness account, March 16, 2005
EXHIBIT: AGE UNKNOWN.
How he paws at her and she’s tiring of him, wants
teeth glinting behind a full upper lip,
stop, stop: he’s on the verge of crying—howling—
she looks into her child’s eyes, and sees past image
to another (the man with whom she made this
don’t cry, don’t), she sees deeper into the night
this child conceived
a slow seed’s insistence—
how can she be so sure. She is. Mother, her child,
whimpering now under her stare,
cornﬂower blue saree gathering his body—
and over it, a beige sweater, arms around—
overalls by OshKosh.
These details, this morning, decided.
Status: Mother’s body found. Child missing.